Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has published a new guide providing advice to community organisations for managing funds generated from renewable energy projects.
As an economic development agency with a particular and unique remit to strengthen communities, HIE recognises the importance of this opportunity.
Along with partners Community Energy Scotland, Development Trusts Association Scotland, Foundation Scotland and Social Investment Scotland, HIE is seeking to work with communities to help them set up processes and structures to enable the best use of this income.
Liz Howard, HIE Development Manager, said: “There is now a growing knowledge on the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches and how they can be used to the communities’ best advantage.
“The guide has been created for communities considering how they can distribute the significant income from their own renewable energy project or from the voluntary contributions made by a commercial developer and to make the management of the community funds easier.
There’s a lot of fantastic information within the guide and we hope it helps ambitious communities manage those funds both for present and future generations.”
The new guide contains advice and guidance on how communities can manage the distribution of the income. Currently, communities are choosing areas such as investing in jobs, housing, new business starts, investing in energy efficient measures or addressing fuel poverty.
Many communities use their own organisations to manage income from energy projects and some which are planning or already investing income back into the community have provided case studies within the guide.
In Orkney, Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre Development Trust has created a community garden, funded a development officer post and improved playpark facilities and communications links within the islands.
The Gigha Heritage Trust is using income from their turbines to focus on improving local housing. The community company Soirbheas, a partner in the joint venture project at Glen Urquhart has identified fuel poverty, protecting the environment and economic growth as main objectives.
Liz continued: “Where renewable energy projects are developed and owned by community organisations, all the available profits are retained for investment and distribution within the community.
“It is this prospect of a high level of independence and reward that has encouraged a number of the country’s most fragile and remote communities to set up and manage their own successful schemes. This guide contains a lot of useful tips on what to consider when managing a community fund.”